“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11(NKJV)
Joy is not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of well-being. Hope in the goodness of God is joy’s indispensable support. ~ Dallas Willard
What does it mean for your joy to be full? It means there won’t be any room for any more. Is that true of you?
What is amazing if you look closely at the Gospels is that even though his life was really hard and he faced a lot of hostility and opposition, Jesus never got burnt out. He never got sarcastic. He never got cynical. He never lost his motivation. He never lost his joy.
Author Frank Lake discovered that Jesus operated by he called the cycle of grace.
Jesus is born into this world and before he begins his ministry he goes to be baptized.
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11
What had Jesus actually done at this point in his ministry or life? Identity and acceptance come before achievement and work. This is joy no one can take away. What in the world could provide pervasive and constant well-being for the entire human race and all of creation? Only God.
The soul only knows borrowed strength. The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil. ~John Ortberg
Jesus was rooted and rested in his acceptance by the Father.
Jesus engages in certain practices that allow God’s grace to keep replenishing his spirit every day, every hour, all the time.
- He would pray.
- He had a close circle of friends.
- He engaged in regular corporate worship and kept the Sabbath.
- He enjoyed God’s creation in silence and solitude.
If you had a joy gauge for your soul, is it on full?
I had a jeep one time that I kept running out of gas. But my gas gauge always said I had ¼ tank. Found out it had a faulty sensor in the gas tank. It would have cost me too much money, I reasoned, to pull the tank and replace the sensor. I never did fix it. I kept guessing wrong and running out of gas.
Honestly, I know tons of people who have faulty soul-sensors. And the wreckage of their lives can be seen along the highway of life.
Jesus does not want you driving on empty and deplete your soul. People go through life and they’re living on empty. Driving your life down until you are running on fumes is dishonoring to the God who created you.
The idea of significance is, “I was made to make a difference beyond myself.” Significance is related to the word sign. All of us are here to point to something bigger than us. We’re like little signs pointing to God.
Jesus was really clear on his significance, and he would talk about it often in these great “I am” statements:
I am the Way.
I am the Bread of Life.
I am the Vine.
I am the Good Shepherd.
These were why he was in the world. Your significance is why you’re in the world. Do you know who you are apart from money, power, and reputation? Why were you placed in the world?
When I was a 26-year-old pastor in Oklahoma there were two deacons that had a huge impact on me. I can’t tell you what they said to me. I can’t tell you what they did. All I can tell you is that their gentle way with a young-know-it-all and loud preacher was soul-forming. In fact, as soon as I get to heaven they are the first two men I am going to look up and tell them what they meant to me.
Their significance is still reverberating in the kingdom down here on earth.
He achieved more than any human being ever has. Cranky, sinful people couldn’t take away his joy. He kept healing. He kept loving, and he said to us, “Now you do the same thing. Don’t just love people who are easy to love. Anybody does that. Love people who are hard to love.”
What would happen if we inverted this sequence?
That’s the cycle of works. Another phrase for this cycle of works is the kingdom of this world. Another word for it is idolatry. Another name for it is the American Dream. We live the wrong way. We live counterclockwise when grace is going clockwise.
There is a better way.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me— watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 27-30 (MSG)
That’s the Jesus way and I like it.